Laguna Azul Eco-Boutique Hotel is a six-room hideaway in a blissfully remote setting: the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, located in the Caribbean Sea northwest of the Republic of Panama, a 50-minute flight from Panama City.
If traveling in your own vehicle from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro:
Take the Braulio Carrillo highway Route 32 and heads toward Puerto Viejo de Limon, continue until you reach the border post at Sixaola. If you do not have permission to take your vehicle to Panama by the National Registry of Costa Rican, the vehicle must remain at one of the parking lots adjacent to the border lines and the cost of parking for 24 hours is around 4500 colones . The border crossing is the same process described above. If you have permission to cross your vehicle to the Panamanian side continuing up to Almirante where you must leave the vehicle in a parking area and continue the journey by boat.
If flying from San José Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro Panama
Flights from San José to Bocas del Toro take place at least 5 times during the week.
The Nature Air terminal is located the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica.
Traveling by bus from San José Costa Rica to Changuinola, and from there to Almirante and then to Bocas del Toro
With this option you will be traveling with Transportes Bocatoreños. This bus company departs from the same bus station as Panaline does (for traveling to David in Panama from San José, Costa Rica). The station for Transportes Bocatoreños is just north of the Coca Cola Bus Terminal, in downtown San José, Costa Rica in front of the Hotel Cocori.
At the border in Sixaola you will have to get an exit stamp from Costa Rica, and then when you cross the border (over a bridge) to the Panamanian side (the town is called Guabito) you will have to get your passport stamped to enter Panama. Keep in mind that you will have to show a valid exit ticket for Panama, and if you don’t have one, just purchase a bus return ticket to somewhere in Costa Rica. Then you will be able to continue your journey to Changuinola (about another hour). In Changuinola you can take another bus to Almirante (less than $2) or a taxi (around $15). And once you arrive to Almirante take a $1 taxi to the dock, from where you can take a water taxi to Bocas del Toro ($4 or $5 depending on the company).
On your way back to Costa Rica, buses to and from Changuinola leave from the station near to town. With your back to the docks, turn left, and when the road dead ends walk to the right 100 m.
By Bus from San José Costa Rica to Sixaola, and from there to Almirante and then to Bocas del Toro
With this option you will be using a company called Mepe. which departs from the Caribe bus station. This bus takes around six hours and stops in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. The fare is around $12.
Once you arrive to the border in Sixaola you will have to get an exit stamp from Costa Rica, and then when you cross the border (over a bridge) to the Panamanian side (the town is called Guabito) you will have to get your passport stamped to enter Panama. Keep in mind that you will have to show a valid exit ticket for Panama, and if you don’t have one, just purchase a bus return ticket to somewhere in Costa Rica
In Guabito you can get a taxi or other type of private transportation to take you to Almirante (1 hour) for about $5 per person if you’re sharing the ride or $15 – $20 if it’s only 1 person. From Guabito you can also just take a bus to Changuinola and from there another bus to Almirante, and finally the boat to Bocas del Toro (in Almirante for $1 you can take a taxi to the docks). Or the bus to Changuinola (a bit more than $1) and then a taxi to Almirante.
Border hours on the Costa Rica side are from 8 a.m. -to 5 p.m. On the Panamanian side hours are the same but there is a time diferrence between Costa Rica and Panama and it is 1 hour less in Panama.
Traveling by bus from Costa Rica Crossing through Paso Canoas
If you’re traveling to Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica, the only reason you’d want to travel through the southern border with Panama (Paso Canoas) is because you’re planning to visit Boquete before (as this way it’s a lot longer to get to Bocas del Toro)
Flying from Panama City to Bocas del Toro
AirPanama flies from Panama City to Bocas del Toro both from Tocumen International Airport (PTY, the airport that you will be landing into Panama City) and from Albrook Airport (PAC, also known as Marcos A. Gelabert Airport or former Paitilla Airport).
Logically if you do not intend to spend any time in Panama City during the first part of your trip to Panama, you might as well try to fly directly from Tocumen Airport to Bocas del Toro (BOC). If you booked this flight from Tocumen to Bocas del Toro, you have to clear customs and immigration as normal, go to the AirPanama counter to check in and they will provide you with your gate information.
Tocumen Airport, the international airport, is located in the outskirts of Panama City. Albrook Airport, the domestic airport, is located within the city. It’s about a 35 minute commute without traffic between both airports, or 1 – 2.5 hours with traffic. A taxi should cost around $35.
AirPanama has flights from Albrook Airport to Bocas del Toro. Flights depart daily. During certain times of the year, flights get completely booked, so make sure to book in advance.
Panama City to Almirante by Bus, and then a Boat to Bocas del Toro
If you want to save some money, then taking an overnight bus from Panama City to Almirante (10 – 11 hours), and then a boat from Almirante to Bocas del Toro (30 minutes) is the way to go.
To make this happen you first have to take a taxi from Tocumen Airport ($35) or from your hotel in Panama City to Albrook Bus Terminal (Gran Terminal de Transporte). And from there you can get your bus to Almirante.
Once you arrive to Almirante, you can pay any taxi $1 to take you from the bus stop to the docks from where the boats depart to Bocas del Toro.